Royal Australian Navy gets new navigators

Navigators aboard HMAS Warramunga have completed a two week deployment to New Zealand as a final stage of the Surface Combatant Navigation Course.

Navigators from the Royal Australian and Royal New Zealand Navies conducted precision pilotages around the coast of New Zealand during which the ship also conducted port visits to Auckland and Wellington.

The New Zealand component was the culmination of 13 weeks of theory and practical activities covering advanced navigation techniques, warfare and ship handling theory.

Each phase aims to teach students the appropriate skills to support a major fleet unit’s warfare fighting capability, and to safely handle the ship in a range of operational and environmental challenges.

The five week practical component includes one week at the Port Ash ship handling facility, in New South Wales, where students practice ship handling and tug work in a range of environmental challenges.

The pilotage phase consists of one week in the Bridge Simulator at HMAS Watson, a week in the Navigation Training Vessel Mercator in Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay, before the most challenging phase at sea, this time conducted in New Zealand in Warramunga.

The sea assessment period for the navigators involved almost 80 pilotage runs within the Hauraki Gulf, Pelorus and Queen Charlotte Sounds, as well as pilotage and tug handling exercises conducting in Auckland and Wellington. After two weeks of intensive navigation training the port visit to Wellington marked the end of the rigorous testing regime, resulting in four Navigators graduating from course.

Royal New Zealand Navy officer, Lieutenant Seager Clarkson said the course was both challenging and rewarding.

“I found the ship handling practice at Port Ash the highlight of the course,” Lieutenant Clarkson said.

“We do not have facilities like that in New Zealand so it was beneficial to practice berthing and tug work in difficult situations whilst getting advice from experienced pilots.”

A graduation ceremony was held for the students of the demanding and intensive course at HMAS Watson on March 2 in the presence of guest of honour Commodore Training, Commodore Mick Rothwell. Also in attendance was Secretary of the Australian Institute of Navigation Air Vice Marshall Kym Osley (Rtd), along with many members of the navigation community, including Advanced Navigators from Principal Warfare Officers’ Course 52, who made a special effort to welcome the students.

The students will soon join their respective fleets as the next generation of Surface Combatant Navigators.